Basic Skills Assessment

SP 9-41

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2004
REVISED: June 1, 2015

REFERENCE: BP9-41, Basic Skills Assessment


/ Nancy J. McCallin /
Nancy J. McCallin, Ph.D.
System President


This procedure applies to all the Community Colleges within the Colorado Community College System (CCCS).


Board Policy (BP) 9-41 requires the System President to promulgate procedures necessary to implement basic skills assessment. Furthermore, these Procedures respond to the Colorado Commission for Higher Education (CCHE) Statewide Remedial Education Policy.


This procedure provides guidance for implementation of basic skills assessment in reading, writing, and mathematics of first-time undergraduate students within CCCS.


Requirement for Assessment:

First-time undergraduate students must be assessed in mathematics, writing, and reading prior to enrolling in the second semester of their college career.

First-Time Undergraduate: As applied in this procedure, an undergraduate student enrolling in a higher education institution for the first time with no previous postsecondary experience, is considered a first-time undergraduate. Enrollment in personal enrichment or vocational courses is not considered previous postsecondary experience. Prior enrollment as a high school student, concurrently enrolled in a higher education institution, does not preclude a student from being categorized as first-time.

  1. Two groups of students are exempted as first-time, degree seeking undergraduates; these include non-degree seeking undergraduates who change to degree seeking status; and non-degree seeking first-time undergraduates who have graduated from a Colorado public or private high school during the previous academic year.
  2. Students who have completed either a college-level transfer mathematics and college-level transfer writing course or a remedial course (if required) in mathematics, writing, and reading are exempt from assessment. Other students exempt from assessment include those who:
  • earned a baccalaureate degree; or
  • earned a transfer-oriented associate degree (i.e., A.A. or A.S.); excludes A.G.S. and A.A.S. graduates; or
  • are pursuing a vocational certificate. (Institutions may be more stringent and require assessment of certificate-seekers); or
  • are concurrently enrolled high school students, until they are matriculated by the institution as degree seeking undergraduates by an institution; or
  • are exchange students (students coming from another institution, state, or country for study) for a defined period of time (e.g., academic term or year); or
  • are non-degree seeking undergraduates (unless recent high school graduates referenced above), until they become degree seeking.

Assessment Methods and Minimum Basic Skills Standards:

Colleges may use any of the following primary indicators of college readiness and cut scores as defined by CCHE in the statewide remedial policy. A student who scores at the indicated score or above within the five years prior to first enrollment is determined to be college ready and therefore not to be in need of basic skills instruction.

  • American College Testing (ACT);
  • Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT);
  • Computer Adaptive Placement Assessment and Support System (COMPASS);
  • Accuplacer test;
  • Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC); or
  • Summative Multistate Resources for Teachers and Educational Researchers (Smarter Balanced)

For students who come to CCCS as “Ability to Benefit” students, one of the primary indicators above should be used to determine college readiness.

If a student brings a college readiness score that falls below the CCHE identified score for a primary indicator of college readiness or the student has not taken one of these tests to demonstrate college readiness, the student must take the Community College Placement Test (CCPT). Students must score the following, in order to be considered college ready:

  • For writing and reading, students must score either 5 on the Written Essay (WRES) plus 96 on the Reading Adaptive assessment (READ) or 6 on WRES and 80 on READ.
  • Students enrolling in a Career and Technical math course (i.e., MAT 103, 107, 108, 109, or 112) must score either 106 on the Basic Algebra Adaptive assessment (BAAD) or 80 on the Pre-Algebra Diagnostic assessment (PADI).
  • Students enrolling in a college level transfer math class that is not algebra (i.e., MAT 120, 135, or 155/56) must score 106 on the Basic Algebra Adaptive assessment (BAAD).
  • Students enrolling in college algebra (MAT 121) must score 61 on the Intermediate Algebra Diagnostic assessment (IADI).
  • Students may demonstrate readiness in math, college composition, and reading, with a combination of recent high school unweighted GPA and related high school coursework. The specific GPA and courses required are built into the CCPT as non-cognitive questions to allow students to quickly complete testing if they demonstrate readiness.

Basic Skills Instruction:

  1. Colleges must advise students in the appropriate level course work upon assessment. Students meeting the specified minimum cut score may enroll in college-level courses and be reported as such, provided that a student’s transcripts or other secondary-level assessment justifies such placement.
  2. Colleges must ensure that each enrolled first-time undergraduate student identified as needing basic skills remedial course work is provided with written notification identifying which state institutions offer such basic skills courses, including electronic, online courses.
  3. All students whose assessment scores do not meet the standards above are responsible for completing basic skills instruction during their first thirty (30) credit hours of attendance at the College. For students with unmet remedial needs who have completed 30 or more credit hours, Colleges must require that such students meet with an academic advisor on the need to address basic skills deficiencies before registering for additional course work.

Test Administration:

  1. In order to retest, there must be permission from the College (i.e., testing center director, chair, dean, advisor, or other identified person).
  2. There is a flat fee associated with the CCPT to include all sections that the student needs to complete. There is also a fee for retest.
  3. Colleges will make test preparation materials available to students and need to make students aware that those resources exist before they take the CCPT.
  4. No cell phones or any other materials are allowed in the testing center or place that the test is administered, except paper that is given to the student as she/he enters the testing room. This applies to all students, including high school sites, where the test might be administered.
  5. If students retest, Colleges will accept the higher of their two testing scores, even if that is the original test score.

Data Collection:

  1. Each College shall collect and report as required by CCHE regarding students who are assessed.
  2. Documentation of the student’s basic skills assessment must be retained for a minimum of five years after testing.

Revising this Procedure

CCCS reserves the right to change any provision or requirement of this procedure at any time and the change shall become effective immediately.